Yamaha is a manufacturer known for producing guitars that are great values, and this goes for guitars in any price range. While Yamaha's high-end guitars have been praised for their incredible sound and build quality, the company's more affordable models also have a lot to offer, especially when compared to inexpensive guitars from other manufacturers.
In this article, we'll be doing a thorough comparison of the Yamaha JR1 vs JR2, two of the company's popular and affordable 3/4 scale guitars.
Both the JR1 and JR2 are members of Yamaha's JR Series, which produces compact versions of the FG Series of acoustic guitars. In this section, we'll go over the basics of each in order to help you decide which is best for you.
This is the less expensive model in the series, although the price difference between the JR1 and JR2 is relatively minimal. This is a 3/4 size guitar, making it slightly smaller than a full-size dreadnought. This model is made of all laminated wood, and it has a spruce top with meranti back and sides. You probably already know about the tonal properties of spruce--it's bright, responsive, and versatile enough to be used for almost any musical genre.
Meranti is a lesser-known wood that you might be less familiar with. It's generally regarded as a budget tonewood, Meranti is very strong, but it has somewhat lackluster tonal qualities. It has a durable nato neck that's capped with a rosewood fretboard, and the rosewood bridge adds a distinctive and beautiful touch. Despite its low cost, this is a guitar that sounds surprisingly good for the price.
Pros & Cons of JR1
The JR2 is essentially the upgraded version of the JR1. It's also a 3/4 size, making it a great option for children learning to play guitar (or for adults who need a travel guitar). This one also is made of all laminated wood, and it has a spruce top with back and sides finished with mahogany UTF (ultra-thin film). Of course, while it won't sound like natural mahogany, this unique finish gives the JR2 a unique and beautiful finish. Like the JR1, this guitar has surprisingly good tone given both its size and all-laminate construction.
Pros & Cons of JR2
Features Face to Face
When looking at the Yamaha JR1 vs JR2, it an initially be difficult to discern differences. After all, these are two similar guitars. In this section, we'll examine their differences when it comes to some of the most important features.
In this respect, the Yamaha JR2 is very similar to the JR1. Both guitars have laminated spruce tops and nato necks. The back and sides of the JR1 are made of meranti, while the back and sides of the JR2 are made of a laminate topped with mahogany film. Neither is a stellar tonal option, but we think the JR2 wins this round--the mahogany film is beautifully finished, giving this guitar a beautiful finish.
When it comes to body shape, these guitars are the same. Both are dreadnoughts, which is the most popular shape for acoustic guitarists. Dreadnoughts produce full, rich tone, and they work equally well for strumming or fingerpicking. However, it should be noted that these smaller dreadnoughts may have a lesser bass response than full-size dreadnoughts. There's no real winner in this situation--both are an equally good choice.
The JR2 acoustic and the JR1 also are very similar when it comes to their appointments. As with the previous section, there's no real winner here, as both guitars have the same appointments. Here's what you get with either:
- Chrome open-gear tuners--These add a sleek, modern look and support impressive tuning stability, especially for the price range
- Rosewood fingerboard--These fingerboards are beautiful and fast-playing, and they also impart some warmth to your tone. You don't often find them on guitars at this price point
- Rosewood bridge--Many less-expensive guitars have bridges made of cheaper woods, but the genuine rosewood on the Yamaha JR1 and JR2 makes them especially beautiful smaller guitars. The Bridge does help somewhat in creating responsive tone, and having a quality tonewood like rosewood as a bridge makes a significant difference, especially in a laminated soundboard.
- Nut and saddle--As with many inexpensive acoustic instruments, The Yamaha JR1 and the JR2 have plastic nuts and saddles. These do little to enhance tonal qualities. However, it is relatively easy to replace these components yourself with bone or high-quality composites.
When buying an acoustic guitar, finish isn't (or shouldn't) be your primary concern. However, one of the notable JR1 vs JR2 differences is the fact that they come in different finish options. The JR1 comes in a single finish--it's a beautiful antiqued natural look that is sure to please most acoustic guitar players.
On the other hand, the Yamaha JR2 comes in either natural or sunburst. The natural finish isn't antiqued, and it shows off the subtle yet beautiful grain of spruce. The sunburst finish is a lovely dark tobacco finish that's perfect for those who prefer something different from natural acoustic guitar finishes.
In this section, the Yamaha JR2 is the winner--while we love the antiqued look of the JR1, we think that the JR2 acoustic guitar wins this round because buyers can choose a finish.
Both the Yamaha JR2 acoustic guitar and the Yamaha JR1 come with a gig bag. This might not sound notable, but most guitars in this price range do not come with either a gig bag or a case. Especially if you are considering using either Yamaha guitar as a travel instrument, having a ready-to-go gig bag is excellent. In this section, since both guitars have the same feature, we think it's a tie.
In this section, we'll go over some of the main features of each Yamaha guitar from the JR Series:
Neither one of these guitars is necessarily better than the other. However, depending on your needs, you might prefer the JR2 acoustic over the JR1 or vice versa.
Choose the JR1 If...
If you're in the market for a smaller acoustic guitar and want an instrument that offers great tone for the price, the Yamaha JR1 is an excellent option.
Choose the JR2 If...
If you'd prefer to choose the flagship model of the series and want a sleeker look than that of the Yamaha JR1, then the JR2 acoustic guitar might be the best option for you.